21st Century Tech?

Yesterday I was lamenting the lack of sophistication of some software and the absence of performance – genuinely missing or at least as perceived by the user – and along comes another day bringing us something new. Of course good old OpenGL is not just the domain of CAD or 3D graphics programs to display geometry, but as it has evolved over the years has been used more and more in plug-ins like Magic Bullet Looks, Knoll Light Factory or Optical Flares. Now while there are certainly benefits to accelerated 2D processing, how about something really impressive? People have been begging for genuine 3D geometry in After Effects for years and now finally thanks to the powers of GPU computing it is happening at least a tiny bit. For a while now, there has been FreeForm Pro and it’s soon getting some company, it would seem.

I’ve written about Shapeshifter and Element (3D) in the past and it so happens that more info on both of them becomes available on the same day. Lucky accident or clever marketing moves? Who knows! As long as we get some bits to wet out appetite, who cares? First there is a quick overview of Element on the Video CoPilot blog and then there is a longer sneak peek for Shapeshifter over at a site whose name we don’t mention around here… Both plug-ins look interesting in their own right and cater different use cases but of course there is overlap once you start considering certain features like repeaters, so it will be interesting to see how they slug it out and find their way.

The caveat? Since both will make heavy use of your graphics hardware it will be critical that it is up to snuff and that is always the part that scares me. Whenever I have to install a new nVidia driver on one of my systems my nerves are fraying. There’s always the risk that it fixes one issue at the cost of introducing several others and more than once reality has proven my point and many users no doubt can attest to similar experiences, if forum posts about OpenGL issues in Adobe software and 3D programs are any indication. I find it always amazing how an expensive higher end graphics card like a GTX 590 ends up being just a useless piece of silicon circuitry due to poor drivers. And no, AMD/ ATI users have nothing to gloat as the situation there seems just as bad…

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